Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has decided to allow a bill allowing charters schools in the state to become law without his signature.
The Seattle Times reports that the legislature passed the law several months after the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state’s 2012 charter law was unconstitutional. Without the legislation, several charter campuses whose legality was in limbo would have been forced to close their doors.
In deciding to let the legislation become law, Inslee expressed concerns that unelected boards overseeing charter school would be deciding how to spend public funds, but said he did not want to see existing schools close. Eight charter schools are operating in the state, and three more are set to open later this year.
The state's Supreme Court ruled in September that the charter school authorization law approved by voters in a 2012 statewide referendum was unconstitutional. The judges said charters aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards. Therefore, “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools.”
The bill approved by the legislature calls for charter school funding to come from lottery revenue.
The Washington State Charter Schools Association, while expressing disappointment that the governor didn't sign the bill, expressed gratitude that charter schools will be allowed to keep operating in the state.
"We look forward to public charter schools continuing to move Washington forward toward closing historic and persistent opportunity gaps and improving educational equity and student outcomes in our state," says Association CEO Tom Franta.